With a Bank Holiday weekend looming there is an expectation that the weather will go rapidly downhill, but this wasn’t the case last weekend when blue skies and soaring temperatures made for lovely weather for the tourists but a bit hot for running. The first race of the weekend however was held on Friday evening when the traditional Torrington Round the tree race took place. This is a multi-terrain challenge starting and finishing in Great Torrington town square and is part of the towns historic May Fair celebrations. At just 2.7 miles it has a fast and furious downhill first mile but a sting in the tail with an uphill finish. A lone Okehampton runner, Jo Page, took part in this race and was very pleased to finish 2nd senior lady and 5th lady overall in a time of 22mins14secs.
By Sunday the weather had reached temperatures more akin to an August Bank Holiday and the Okehampton runners that took part in the very tough Hartland Heartbreaker found it uncomfortably hot. There are two races here, the 18.5 mile Heartbreaker and the 9 mile Heartache which is the first loop of the longer race. Both take the runners from the start at Hartland Abbey through woods filled with bluebells and wild garlic and then out onto the stunningly beautiful coastline, following the steep coast path northwards, with its brutal ascents, steps and descents to Hartland Point before turning back inland through green lanes and tracks and returning to the Abbey. This is the finish for the 9 milers, while the ones doing the longer route wade through a river to then follow a path on the opposite side of the valley out to the coast again to do an even tougher second loop southwards. Here the coastpath is only inches from vertical drops in places and cruelly runners can be seen tantalising close, but often well ahead due the twisting nature of the course. Other notable points were an ascent called the Wall, another called The Slog and a section so steep ropes were supplied to pull yourself up. The compensation for all this effort is the spectacular scenery, the beautiful woods and the sangria, Prosseco, Tequila and beer that are on offer at several points! On such a hot but glorious day the toughness of the race is soon forgotten by the runners once the finish line is crossed but the memories of the wonderful scenery and superb marshals stay with them. Four ORCs took part in the Heartache with Emma Dean the first in 1hr 43min to finish followed by Jane Jones in 1hr 53mins and then Suzanne Gratton in 2hrs 12mins and Kerry Tyler in 2hrs 22mins, all very glad to not be facing a second half. Two of the three 18 milers, Jane Jackson and Christine Fritsch, were using this as part of their training for the upcoming Tsunami Marathon and their following Lakeland Ultra and were running with a lot of training miles in their legs. For Mags Jarvis this was a step into completely unknown territory, having never raced further than a half marathon before and she coped well despite not liking the heat. All three ran well in the conditions with Mags and Jane both in 4hrs 25mins, the oldest ladies in the race, crossing the line together, and Christine in 4hrs 26mins not far behind having been waylaid at the last cocktail stop just before the finish! Tip here is never have a drinking competition with Christine, only one minute to knock back a cocktail!
Roger Voaden completed another weekend of back to back marathons when he ran the Plym Trail marathons on both Saturday and Sunday. The course is a double out and back along the track of an historic railway in the Plym valley, with some lovely scenery along the way. Roger had completed this duo of marathons once already this year and repeated his success again this time, despite the heat, coming 2nd on the first day in 3.22.00 and 3rd on Sunday in 3.22.55 but winning the overall weekend on aggregate.
Thank you as always to Jane Jackson for the reporting and Robert Richards the publishing.